One mistake people make when interviewing candidates is asking only about skills and experience. And while yes, those are important, they’re just one aspect to consider. To predict employee workplace behavior and on-the-job success, rethink the way you choose your interview topics.
Ask a few questions from each of the following categories: functional expertise, executive function skills, behaviors and drives, leadership capabilities, and whole person.
Here’s a list of 58 interview topics for you to choose from:
Functional expertise covers the qualifications, experience, and knowledge your candidate needs to succeed at their role. Without these, your candidates may take longer to onboard, or worse, never hit their full stride. Examples of functional expertise include:
1. Technical skills
3. Depth of knowledge in areas of expertise
Executive function skills
Imagine your ideal candidate. Do you think of someone who takes notes, puts in discretionary effort, and plans ahead? Or someone who doesn’t? While functional expertise is useful, without the executive function skills to back it up, even the most knowledgeable employees will fall short. Questions around executive function skills should focus on topics like:
6. Short-term planning
7. Long-term planning
8. Effective communication
9. Work ethic
11. Strategic planning
12. Goal setting
13. Delegating authority and details
14. Decision making (quantitative and qualitative)
15. Critical thinking
Behaviors and drives
Behavior is one of the most important parts of a candidate’s background. After all, a salesperson might have 10 years of experience, but if they don’t like working with people, how effective do you think they’ll be? Behavior isn’t just about competency, though. When an employee’s personality matches the job, they’re less likely to suffer from employee disengagement. You can analyze an employee’s behavior and drives by combining a talent assessment with some of the topics below:
16. Attention to detail
17. Process orientation
23. Competitive spirit
24. Commitment to excellence
25. Risk management
26. Taking initiative
28. Decision making
If you’re looking for a more thorough understanding of an employee’s behavior and drives, consider using a scientifically validated tool, like the PI Behavioral Assessment.
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As every first-time manager knows, leadership isn’t as easy as it looks. When your organization hires a strong leader, though, the results can be immediate. Projects get done faster, morale tends to rise, and you reap the full benefits of employee engagement. That said, it’s difficult to evaluate leadership in an interview setting. To get the full perspective on an candidate’s leadership capabilities, ask them about topics like:
29. Preferred management style
30. Receiving feedback
31. Giving feedback
32. Providing coaching
33. Managing people effectively
34. Inspiring followership
35. Managing up, down, and across the organization
36. Adjusting management style based on employee feedback
37. Managing high-performing teams
38. Ability to transform a mediocre team into a high-performing team
To learn more about the effect of leadership on retention, check out our 2021 People Management Report.
Understanding the whole person
While it’s easy to get lost in the data, you also need to remember: You’re not hiring a resume. You’re hiring a person. If a candidate’s values don’t align with your business goals, they might cause a headache, no matter how good their skills are on paper. You should always make sure to ask candidates about at least some of the questions below, to evaluate their fit with your company:
39. Growth areas
40. Blind spots
41. Defining candidate traits
42. Cultural fit/add
43. Role models and mentors
44. Learning style
45. Stress management
48. Personal communication style
49. Career trajectory
50. Career goals
51. Major accomplishments
53. Work-life balance/integration
Some interview topics are important, but don’t fit neatly into the boxes above. These include:
55. Comfort with conflict
56. Conflict resolution
58. Ability to disagree and commit
Divide interview topics and conquer.
Once you’ve chosen your topics, meet beforehand to divide them among the interview team members. This ensures you cover the right topics and people aren’t asking redundant questions.
Finally, remember the two main goals of an interview: Find out what you need to know and offer the candidate an excellent experience. That way, if you do make an offer, they’ll be more inclined to accept!